December 18, 2008

A very special section: Economic growth and biodiversity conservation

The latest issue of Conservation Biology features a special section on Economic Growth and Biodiversity Conservation which consists of four papers by Brian Czech, Joshua Farley (that I comment here), Jon Rosales and Philip Lawn. Assigning a special section on economics to these authors is like assigning a special section on climate change to so-called climate skeptics, or a special section on evolution to "intelligent design" Christian fundamentalists. No mainstream science here.

All four authors believe that economic growth is always detrimental to biodiversity, that for this reason alone we must stop economic growth, that current government policies are specifically designed to promote economic growth, and that there are absolute physical and ecological limits to economic growth.

And this feature is in the same issue where we get a special section on Land use and climate change where authors call for the nationalization of land and 50-year central plans.

These are some jewels from Lawn's paper Macroeconomic policy, growth, and biodiversity conservation, in which he proposes cap-and-trade systems for each and every natural resource to "ensure that the economy is always operating sustainably":
In most countries monetary policy is conducted by central banks acting independently of the central government.

[C]ontemporary international trade policy is increasingly characterized by minimal government intervention in global markets [...]

Policies implemented by central governments are often aimed at increasing the international competitiveness of domestic industries in order to boost net exports.

Whether it is internal fiscal and monetary policies or the external policy area of international trade, macroeconomic policy is essentially directed toward achieving the maximum inflation-acceptable growth rate of real gross domestic product.

[T]he general flavor of all mainstream macroeconomic policy is essentially the same—it is unashamedly progrowth.

[C]ontemporary macroeconomic policy can be largely blamed for the growth that threatens biodiversity conservation [...]

The globalization phenomenon has emerged because the increase in mobility of financial capital has shifted the principle governing international trade from "comparative advantage" (which is based on the relative cost of production) to "absolute advantage" (which is based on the absolute cost of production).

[P]ublic sector output involves the provision of public goods and a redistribution of services toward the poor [...]
And two good ones from Czech (Prospects for reconciling the conflict between economic growth and biodiversity conservation with technological progress):
[A]bandonment of a metropolis would contribute not to economic growth, but to recession[.]

It is only after the factors of production (land, labor, and capital) are paid for and shareholder dividends distributed that any remaining corporate revenue may be allocated to R&D [research and development].

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